Posted by Pip
AL45- Ignore It And It Might Go Away
Everybody’s favorite Sins town returns! Its inhabitants are probably the few people in the comics you really have no choice but to feel bad for. Ah well, that’s what you get when you co-opt Greed’s leyline and then don’t even let the poor guy hang around to enjoy the cute temple priestesses.
Of course it’s a new month so we have a new “donate pictures, writing, money, whatEVER” wallpaper to give out.
And my favorite Google search string leading to the site is... “pip name is steve”. Because it’s a filthy, filthy lie.
An extra special additional thanks to the person/persons adding Sins to TVTropes. Big big thanks. They’ve been leading to lots of hits and some of the categories you have the comic under are pretty humorous.
Long A’ Review: The Orange Box (PS3)
Half Life 2- Taking off the rose colored glasses, HL2 is only four years old and it has aged hooorribly. The animations are awful (when you pick something up, it just magically hovers in the air, you don’t even take your hand off the gun), you constantly get hung up on minor things like a cardboard box at your feet, the very mechanics of the universe make no sense (physics are very important here but some things are affected by it and others aren’t. Some things can be broken with a crowbar but other times a simple piece of wood or metal will stand up to a rocket), the level layouts are confusing at best and you never have a sense of “yes, I’m going to the right way” so you spend the whole game going in one direction until you hit a wall and then exploring a bit and if you can’t find an exit, you just run around until you can. For every five minutes of actual gameplay, there’s another five to ten minutes of being stuck in an area not sure if there’s a puzzle that leads you out or the exit is just so obscure you can’t see it. Any time you encounter allies or a squad, the game becomes a frustrating exercise in trying to push them out of your way because they want nothing more than to block doorways or to prevent you from maneuvering around enemies. At best there are a few paragraphs worth of actual story and the rest is left to your imagination and you spend most of the game: breaking crates, turning a flashlight on and off, or suffering through out of place and abysmally controlled vehicle segments. Several hours into the game, you don’t really know who the bad guys are, why they’re doing what they’re doing, or why any of this is even going on. You’re shepherded from area to area with no choice but to take one specific side simply because the game tells you that you’re supposed to. The villain of the game is the “villain” because he made a deal with the aliens with vastly more technology that utterly decimated everything Earth had to offer in seven minutes. That’s not a villain, that’s somebody with common sense. If your opponent has a rocket launcher and you have a water pistol, you don’t squirt him in the face, you get on his good side.
Portal- I’m really, really, REALLY surprised that I just did not have a ton of fun playing this. The mechanics are awesome, the dialogue is fantastic, and the “bad guy” is one of video gaming’s best, but the core gameplay stops being fun pretty quickly. Save for all but one puzzle, the game isn’t difficult; it’s just a matter of trying to get the controller and camera to do what you want to. In pretty much every puzzle, I was able to visualize the answer and realize what I was supposed to do, but getting the camera to behave properly or getting the character through the portal without snagging the edge became a major pain. And once the game introduces the ability to die and all the timed puzzles, it really stops being fun. Part of that problem comes from the entire Orange Box’s godawful loading times so it’s not the core game’s fault, but every floor or two or any time you die, you suffer through the loads that just completely take you out of the game. It’s worth playing for the ideas the game has and the awesome dialogue, but even thought it’s incredibly short, it’s a grind to get through the last stages (the final stage being almost as long as the 18 stages that preceded it).
A larger problem inherent to almost all puzzle games is that if you don’t see the solution, that’s it, there’s nothing you can do. There are no hints, no ways of finding clues, and if you don’t have a friend that has the game or access to Youtube, you may as well just give up on the game and sell it. The one room I couldn’t complete on my own had a switch hidden in the shadows that I just couldn’t see and if it weren’t for a walkthrough I found on Youtube, I never would have passed that level.
I think one of the things that prevented the game from being great and giving me an incentive to move ahead is that there is just enough atmosphere and hints of a story to make you want to know more, but there’s no payoff. At the end of the game, you know nothing about the character you control, why she’s in this facility, why the tests are being run, why everybody else is gone, why the place is so run down, why the bad guy turned rogue, or anything about the entire world around you. You can find some minor backstory on the company’s real life website but that still doesn’t help. Once the credits start to roll, you’re left with a sense of “that’s it?” and you’re never given an inkling as to why you just went through that. Yes, not dying is good motivation, but if I simply never played the game, I wouldn’t have these questions and would be better off. If you’re going to raise issues, there has to be some kind of payoff. You don’t even really know if your character survived the end, so the entire game could have wound up being pointless, but without the underlying story and base, it doesn’t even fit into being a good “bad” or “sad” ending. It’s simply “there was a game and events occurred” and nothing more.
Team Fortress 2- TF2 can go from being the best FPS multiplayer in the world to being a steaming pile in literally seconds. Part of the problem is the game itself and the other part is the userbase. The game has no single player mode or even missions to teach you about the game, so from the get go, you have to learn the controls, the layout of the stages, what each character’s abilities are, and even the very objectives of the game while you’re under fire. Trying to learn and trying to not take a grenade to the face should not be going on at the same time. It’s the video game equivalent to giving a high school freshman an algebra book, telling him to teach himself its contents, and then proceeding to hit him in the face with a dodgeball. This just confuses the hell out of new players and makes seasoned players mad at them and is a major turn off for everybody. I don’t have a headset so there’s no way to communicate with other players, so to name one instance, I had the mission objective and was trying to return it to the base, the only route back I knew of was being blocked by an enemy, and I had somebody yelling into his mic that I should “Go the other way out”. I just started playing the game so I know no other way and there’s no “I’m new, cut me some slack or help me” indicator, so in the end, we ran out of time, I got frustrated, he got frustrated, and we both had a bad time. Now if the game had some missions or single player mode to actually give me pointers and learn the basics of the game, that never would have happened and there’d be two happier people.
The other crippling issue is the people that are playing the game. If you’re playing, you will be playing this one map for 90% of the time, about six people will choose snipers, four people will be pyros, and it will be a slogfest of wall to wall sentry guns. Turn a corner, sentry gun. Die and respawn. Go another way, somebody is playing defense as a pyro. Die and respawn as a new class. Go to the sentry gun and blow it up. Turn the next corner, die from another sentry gun. Get back to that first corner, die again because they rebuilt that sentry gun. Almost nobody that is playing the game plays offense. Easily 75% of the matches I played ended in sudden death because everybody spends all their time camping in corners or sniper positions and building sentry guns. It gets incredibly boring. I’m a broken record I know, but sentry guns ruin this entire game. Stick a dispenser next to a sentry gun and as long as you have one person willing to play as an engineer the entire match, you’re done, game over for the team trying to capture the nodes. I was playing in a five versus five match against a fun group and each and every spawn I was able to mow down three or four rival players but then I’d be killed by the sentry gun and the remaining engineer would fix the damage to the gun while the sentry took down anybody trying to get the engineer. Everybody respawns, process repeats, we kill four of the five members, sentry gun takes down the entire team, one engineer fixes it up, and this went on for ten minutes until the match ended. If you couldn’t heal the sentries, that alone would save the game and it would be a more balanced and fair character system. But as long as you have a single player willing to hide for the whole match and only come out to maintain the gun, there is absolutely no reason to play this game. For those one in a hundred times when you stumble into a match where people are playing as soldiers and scouts too, the game is ludicrously fantastic. It’s fun, hysterical, and the art and animation are exceptional. The rest of the time, it’s ten minutes of dying from sentry guns. I have no motivation or even really the ability to improve at the game. No matter what class I chose, I seem to die in one hit (how the hell does a solder one hit KO a heavy at full health!?) so I can never learn the layout of the stages, learn strategies to deal with enemies, or improve how I play each class. Because of how the game is set up and the people that play it, I’m getting a horrible ratio of play time to enjoyment. I might get half an hour in a great game with fun players and then spend the next three hours more or less staring at the respawn clock and getting yelled at.